Friday, February 21, 2020

Chasing the Dragon

(I think I wrote this when I learned that Google Plus was going to be decommissioned) 

My heart is sore; not the normal heartsore-ness that comes with Spring and the gentle whirring emptiness of my professional life at the moment (maybe just enough to get by on, but not thriving, if you get my drift).  When I was very heartsore from this toxic work environment I had a couple of years ago, I took solace in my new-found hobby of Geeplus plus Role Playing Games, the former entirely new to me and the latter something I'd let founder for almost 15 years at that point.  I had split from my game group during the days of 2e because - get a load of this - I had actually lost my first job in college owing to my missing a shift and playing on a Wednesday night, in a game that was only nominally (for me) fun at the time. It wasn't a great job, but my priorities shifted and suddenly I did not view D&D or any other games as "worth it". I do now, but that's another thing entirely. My orientation has been more to raising my kid, and work is much less harrowing these days, so the need for stress reduction is pretty low and I am seeing things with less rose-colored glasses.  That said, I believe my perceptions about the quality of interaction on the community of G+ are accurate.  Feel free to disabuse me, or not, or whatever.

I have detected, maybe through a fault in my own perceptions I admit, that the atmosphere on G+ has subtly changed.  It no longer brings me the joy it used to.  Partly it's because since I have joined my tastes in games has changed, and partly that I am growing disgruntled with the endless onslaught of prompts to buy things.  I won't go too much into it here, but it started with a couple of years ago as all these creative and talented people I love started and brought pet projects to fruition (which is great) and made them for sale (which is fine) but then turned to making things for sale (my perception) and became less focused on just sharing cool ideas (my possibly erroneous conclusion). There are a couple of celebrity types for whom the creation of boutique gaming objects and especially books as physical objects are sort of their niche, and I think that this is admirable.  But as these people rise to prominence it seems to me that interest of the community has turned away from creation for the sake of creation and sharing as a bonding mode, toward creation-for-profit and sharing as a modus for earning legitimacy itself.  When I wrote my thing a couple of years ago, my kid was a slobbering sack of meat, and I was up anyway, and I just wanted to see if I could do it.  Now that I've done it, I fully recognize that any of us in the community has the processing power and freely available software that we can each, should we so desire, make a thing that is better in many ways than the stuff that captured our imaginations as children and adolescents and that attracted us to this community in the first place.  I mean, sure, you're not recreating D&D, here.  That's a thing that's wizard-locked and gated, if you get my drift.  A couple of clever people have actually managed to put interesting spins on the old rules of yore, which I find enjoyable. But the latest stuff seems endless tiresome iterations of the same old thing in packaging slightly better than the last. Mastery of ideas has given way to mastery of management of creative artists and suites of software. Probably a

The weight of the things I am not creating while I am polishing up a pig's ear for sale is growing on me. My creative and nurturing urge is oriented to this little person, and trying to get my fiscal life in order, and spend what little time remains in happy harmony with my wife and family.  So, rather than fester these wounds and ferment these back-burner projects any longer, I am going to drop them back into the soup for consumption.  "Idea Debt" weighs heavy on me.  I do not believe, despite my good experiences with the only publisher I have worked with, that I will make any more things for sale or publication in the way that drives our community lately. I find Kickstarters to be antithetical to this thing I mean, and maybe the source of the problem.  Patreon? Yes, artists need to eat.  I will very likely create and discard things, but I do not have the wherewithal or interest or force of will to drive a thing to publication at this stage in my life, and I am becoming leery of the urge to do so as a false one and a trick, one that is instilled and perpetrated by dint of being in a giant electrical strip-mall that used to be a cheery club-house. Maybe too metaphorical, I know.  Melodramatic, for sure.

The amazement and excitement I felt when I first found G+ is vanishing, replaced by a stream of infomercials. Factionalism and tribalism and snobbery seems to me to prevail. Hey, effendi, your mileage may vary as always.

Maybe I am depressed but I don't think that's exactly it.  That would imply an unhealthy spin on it.  Dis-illusioned? Dysglamored?

The King is The Land.  The Land is The King.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Procedural Mini-dungeon Example, plus d80 Lair of the Robolich special rooms

Hey-o, fam. Now is the time for all good men and women and nonbinary peoples n robots n such to decry racism, sexism, bigotry of all sorts. If you say to this VIRTUE SIGNALLING, then piss off and fail all your saves for today. I tend to play the Chaotic- and Lawful-Good  types, when I play on the player side. The Robolich wishes for you to know that mere faulty flesh parts are of no consequence and merely the avatars for the deep programming that persists, and furthermore 45 years of media consumption has taught me that slow, dense, monotypical bullying empires are not to be trusted or permitted and Rebellion requires us to undertake iconoclasm

Speaking of destroying empires, here is a thing I have been teaching my computer to make for me via Tablesmith. Long ago, it was a Moldvay Basic-based dungeon stocking program but I have now authored, cribbed, and stolen so many tables and adhered them together that it is making a perfectly good and beautifully gonzo dungeon nearly every time I spit one out. I can make them all day, and they have level-appropriate monsters, to boot.  Here is an example of a brief Level 1 DunjonCorp vs. The Robolich dungeon, the idea being that the dumb/sinister computer makes my entries for me, then I go back in and “human DM” them up and elaborate as needed. I’m a big fan of letting the Robolich do my work for me, if you take my meaning. It sort of combines my metals/treasures/traps/”special” room contents and about 10 other different parts to make a key that sometimes does not make sense. It used to have pretty good treasure-per-room ratio but that went to hell a while back. The Mutant Future/Gamma World monster list is still a work in progress so it mostly spits out “spidergoat”

  1. There is a spidergoat, here.
  2. Hidden antique Imperial coins worth 530 gold .
  3. Hidden antique Imperial coins worth 385 gold .
  4. There are 3 Vegepygmy Warriors and a blasted hole, here.
  5. Krenshar, a weapon rack, and hidden treasure: High Tech: Antitox Functions on 1-4 in 20.
  6. Hidden ancient coins of blue ivory worth 365 gold.
  7. There are 3 Morlock Warriors, here.
  8. This room has a Robodoc terminal.
  9. This room has an a fountain - drinking or bathing in it will Intelligent - AI or demon-haunted. Determine personality randomly. (nonsensical, but could be fun if I flesh it out, like maybe a water weird-style or nereid petulant NPC)
  10. There are 1 Human Commoner Zombies and a curtain, here.
  11. This room has an office supply storage facility. 1d100 cubicle walls, stacked and propped in a pile, yellow-mold infested.
  12. This room is spotlessly clean and free of dust. In the corner, there is a lantern.
  13. There are 2 Human Commoner Zombies and a broken furniture, here.
  14. This room has a force field that constrains Hezrou.
  15. Mostly empty and clean, this room smells dusty.
  16. There are 1 Small Monstrous Scorpions and the diseased remains of a Cleric, still in its chainmail hauberk, bearing a Staff. It still has a sack, here.
  17. There are 1 Dire Rats and a kiln, here.
  18. This room has an obscene hand-painted frescoes - staring at them for too long causes switch victim alignment to neutral.
  19. There are 3 Human Commoner Zombies, here.
  20. There are 3 Vegepygmy Warriors and a tripod, here.

Here is the code for the “special rooms” contents. It’s not always weighted equally so some things will occur more frequently than others… steal if you like and may the Robolich’s leering visage take pity on your unidimensional soul. Anything in brackets like [this] is a call to another table or section of this code

  1. puzzle that will [Special] if solved
  2. is half-flooded with waist-high water. The next {Dice~1d4+1} rooms are also flooded
  3. animated mosaics
  4. {Dice~%Level%d4} lewd voxel sculptures. They [Special]
  5. statue from an ancient civilization, which [Special]
  6. broken scientific equipment, that will [Special]
  7. a magic circle: entering it will [Special]
  8. slime patches - 1 in 10 is monstrous but is currently dormant
  9. {Dice~1d3} shipping containers containing {Dice~2d100} [NMS_Junk.Start]
  10. cryostasis tomb - {Dice~1d4+4} cryopods that contain {Bold~[Monster]} in stasis
  11. {Dice~1d4} mummified corpses: disturbing them causes [Special]
  12. huge fire pit - 10% chance that it is still lit
  13. broken and decaying furniture - space station style
  14. {Dice~1d3} thrones - disturbing them in any way summons {Bold~[Monster]}
  15. altar to some ancient god - praying at it causes [Special]
  16. alarm that activates and causes {Bold~[Monster]} to arrive in next turn
  17. weapon racks - containing {Dice~1d4} ancient mono-scimitars, void grenades, or blasters
  18. hyperbraziers and charcoal - inhaling the pungent fumes causes [Special]
  19. an ancient battle site with {Dice~2d20} skeletons and their wargear
  20. obscene hand-painted frescoes - staring at them for too long causes [Special]
  21. mouldering tapestries that are worth {Dice~2d500} gp but weigh 1000gp
  22. large demon idol from an ancient civilization - worshipping causes [Special]
  23. Gene resequencer - change to random race if interacted with
  24. clone vat - interacting character sacrifices {Dice~1d12} HP and gets faithful/insane/flawed clone
  25. corpse renderer - breaks corpses down into 1d10 potions
  26. trash incinerator - receive 5 gold/AL in antique coins for worhtless items
  27. sauroid pen - either dusty bones or {Bold~{Dice~2d4} Large Dinosaurs} in stasis
  28. pillars of scrutiny: if diverge from Alignment, then judged and causes [Trap]
  29. altar to [Altar] - donating money causes [Special]
  30. intricate archway - stepping through transports to [Pocket]
  31. illusionary ceiling. The party is able to view the sky outside the dungeon
  32. ancient container - contains small hoard of [Treasure] plus [NMS_Junk.Start]
  33. interactive map dome - some far away region or land
  34. fire - blazing fire in center of room
  35. roaring fireplace
  36. cold fireplace
  37. force field that constrains {Bold~[NMS_DunjonCorpMonsters.Hard]}
  38. a fountain - drinking or bathing in it will [Special]
  39. illusion - touching it will [Special]
  40. infernal machine - interacting with the control panel will [Special]
  41. magically confined monster - {Bold~[NMS_DunjonCorpMonsters.Extreme]}
  42. pedestal - touching it [Special]
  43. pit - it is effectively bottomless, or else the bottom goes to [Pocket]
  44. pool - mysterious waters cause [Special]
  45. stairway to extra-/para-dimensional section of dungeon
  46. tangleweb vines - DC 14 Dexterity save or held fast (whole party)
  47. intricate well - if a PC throws in a coin they make a wish or climb down to [Pocket]
  48. divinity terminal gives access to previously unknown minor godthing
  49. matter transmittal pad, moves within dungeon or far far away
  50. soul gem - every round a beam attacks random party member, DC {Dice~1d12+6} Wisdom save negates, else soul sucked into Gem
  51. planetarium projector - if disturbed then laser attacks at d24 on each party member for 1d10 damage
  52. bottled city access. The bottle is guarded by {Bold~[NMS_DunjonCorpMonsters.Hard]}
  53. shimmering warpgate to [Pocket]. The gate is guarded by {Bold~[NMS_DunjonCorpMonsters.Extreme]}
  54. hallway of door gates {Dice~1d6} active portals
  55. cubicle zone {Dice~%Level%d100} office cubicles. [Cubicle]
  56. office supply storage facility. [Storage]
  57. server room with {Dice~%Level%d10} humming server machines and {Dice~%Level%d4} artificial intelligences
  58. {Dice~%Level%d20} high-strength storage barrels full of [Liquids]
  59. evolutionary improver machine - adds 1 positive mutation
  60. de-volver Ray - adds 1 negative mutation
  61. dna resequencer - changes race
  62. rows of cloning tanks with {Dice~1d10} viable clones
  63. shelves of supplies
  64. parking lot with {Dice~2d10} rusted-out automobiles or skimmers. The entry-gate is non-functioning. [Parking]
  65. a very tidy resting spot is nestled in an out of the way part of this room, complete with water and toilet facilities
  66. magic mouth recites a dire warning in several languages and telepathically
  67. food production area. {Dice~%Level%d10} iron ration equivalents are available
  68. maintenance area. There are [Maintenance]
  69. ancient maintenance droid, it will [Special] if repaired
  70. broken colossal war machine, will [Special] if awoken
  71. empty robot charging station
  72. matter replicator device
  73. nanotech doctoring device - restores all HP and removes biological disease and poison
  74. Robodoc terminal
  75. small plasmic energy core - the room is bathed in low-intensity radiation
  76. giant holding tank of mutagenic gel
  77. large holding tank of mutagenic gel that is cracked and leaking. Nearby monsters will have beneficial mutations
  78. nanite cesspit that dissolves organic materials
  79. nanite cesspit that dissolves inorganic materials
  80. rippling breach in space-time that spills out Lovecraftian horrors

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